Redefining “Geek” and “Glamour”

The New Computer Engineer Barbie

The New Computer Engineer Barbie

Elaine Craft, director of the SC ATE Center of Excellence since 1994, co-principal investigator for the SC ATE National Resource Center for Expanding Excellence in Technician Education, and founder and president of SCATE Inc., a not-for-profit corporation created in 2005 to promote systemic change in ATE, shares her thoughts on scientific and technological careers for women.

So you are good in math and you like science, right? Do you worry that someone may think you are a geek? No doubt there are some geeks out there of both male and female varieties, but the geek doesn’t have to be you. Geeks are found in every field…you know who they are. They are the ones with no fashion sense, limited personality, and good grades. What is important to know about geeks is that even when they excel in school, they probably won’t get the best jobs. Today’s best jobs go to those who have social skills. Being able to work well with others and communicate clearly is as important as having strong science, math, engineering, and technology knowledge and skills. Today’s really important work is done by professionals working in teams, and working effectively in a team requires skills in which we females typically excel. Choosing to pursue a career as a technician or in another related field that requires engineering, technology, math and science knowledge can give you the opportunity to create your own definition of what glamour means. You can make money, be feminine, well-dressed, and….well… glamorous! The dictionary defines glamour as “a luring or fascinating attraction” which, you must admit, is much harder to achieve when you are surrounded by girls than it is when you are surrounded by guys. Don’t let anyone discourage you. Ignore the naysayers and go for the gold and for the glamour by following your talent and interest in math, science and technology.

Thanks, Elaine!

That’s what Barbie is doing these days! Yes, Barbie, the iconic doll who turned 50 last year and has had past lives as a beach beauty, a princess, a rock star and an airline stewardess, will now have a new role as a Computer Engineer. This latest Barbie incarnation, due to be released by the Mattel toy company next October, will don a binary number tee shirt and a cell-phone headset and carry a laptop computer. Mattel notes that their ever-popular doll is an important role model for young girls — fully 90 percent of girls under age 10 own at least one Barbie.

But real-life examples of women role models redefining these stereotypes are equally important. As MSNBC has recently reported, many colleges and communities are developing new programs to expose young women to careers in science and technology and we feature them regularly on ATETV.

It looks like Geek might just indeed be Glamorous!

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